cover image Maisie


Alice Schertle. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09310-5

Memories of her mother inspire Schertle's affectionate and affecting portrait of Maisie, first introduced as an infant and last seen holding a great-granddaughter by the hand. The newborn Maisie lies in a bed fashioned from a dresser drawer, hearing the sounds of the family farm. As a child, Maisie loves nature; she trades a pencil for a classmate's frog, only to set it free (``Hop away home,'' she tells it). Schertle's chatty narrative follows Maisie through her courtship and marriage to the banjo-playing Walter Triggs, with whom she moves to the city and has four children. In turn, the children, too, leave home (""Fly away free,"" Maisie tells her brood). But they return with their offspring to visit Grandma Maisie and Grandpa Walter. Finally, after 31 great-grandchildren help Maisie blow out the candles on her 90th-birthday cake, Maisie and the youngest walk down to the stream, where the girl sets a frog free, bidding it to ""hop away home."" This pleasingly nostalgic tale gracefully underscores the importance of letting go and welcoming back. Though occasionally overly sketchy and seemingly unfinished, Dabcovich's (illustrator of Schertle's William and Grandpa) softly focused pictures capture Maisie's spunk and warmth, and perceptively convey both those things that changed and those that remained constant during this woman's lifetime. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)